I love John Crist’s videos. News of years of sexual harassment and misconduct broke earlier this week. Yet another failure.
Over the past few years there are have been major stories on failures within the American Church. From “liberal” to “conservative”. From Catholic to evangelical. So many places… and so “underwhelming” it seems. It might be that we’re numb. It might be we’re tired of the brash cultural conflicts and we’re simply not paying attention.
What has been ringing in my heart the past couple of years is this: Christ is pruning and purifying the American Church. Ed Stetzer had a great article on this last year.
The greatest failure of the American Church is with all of these signs of Jesus’s discipline… we are still not having a national call of any kind for repentance. There aren’t church leaders calling for a time of national mourning. I can remember decades ago a sense of God taking the denomination I was serving through a time of examination. There was a call for a Solemn Assembly. For three days the agenda was to gather and wait on God.
That denomination hasn’t called for anything like that. No other denomination has called for anything like that. Church leaders across denominational lines haven’t called for anything like that.
This is what I fear: a massive repeat of the failures of the 1980s. This time on a greater scale. In the 80s it was Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. At the time, there were a couple of men in Swaggart’s life who spoke to him, not knowing all the details of his failure, and begged him to step away from ministry for six months and refresh himself in the presence of Jesus.
Swaggart replied, basically, that he couldn’t stop. The machine (ministry) was so big he couldn’t stop. His fear was that if he stopped, the money would stop.
That is what I fear this time. The “machine” of the megachurch, multisite church, etc., and the “machine” of massive works like the Catholic Church and other major denominations are so huge… leaders don’t know how to stop. They fear the halt of the “machine” more than they fear the discipline of the Lord.
The American Church… and not just the evangelical church… is in massive trouble. It’s not apparent to the casual observing eye right now. It’s a diagnostic issue. It’s a car engine that has a certain sound and the master mechanic hears a particular “hitch” that indicates something is about to go wrong under the hood.
The prophet Amos was an anomaly in his day. Things were going well outwardly in Israel. He looked silly pronouncing the judgment of God.
We are living in such a day. It is time … and probably past time … to heed that warning.